Her insidious attempt to take revenge had been negated so she retorted to an invidious attack and slandered the victim in front of her colleagues.

If you were looking for negative words to increase your vocabulary then you’ve come to the right place. ‘Insidious’ and ‘invidious’ both describe actions that can cause harm. Thus, both of these words will help you spice-up your writing to make it more attractive. Insidious is an adjective that describes something that is causing harm in a way that is hidden from the eye. Something insidious is waiting under the shadows for the right moment to ambush you. Invidious is also an adjective but it describes something that causes resentment out in the open. Invidious actions cause people to discriminate and fight with each other.

Both of these actions are pretty hateful but an insidious attack is subtle so it might not show on the surface and it might not attract disapproval, but an invidious action is spiteful at the first glance. A common example would be:

Lies are insidious but name-calling is invidious.

Let’s look at their meanings and roots in more detail.

Insidious vs invidious – definitions, meanings and example sentences

Definition of insidious

Insidious is an adjective that describes something evil, harmful and dangerous that attacks from the inside. The word can be used for actions of treachery or deceit that are indirect and involve a lot of plotting and scheming. The root of the word insidious can be traced back to the Latin core ‘insidiosus’ which translates to ‘devious and deceitful.’

Example sentences of insidious

  • Rapid industrialization is having an insidious impact on the quality of life.

Industrial development, although intended for the good of people, can damage the environment and cause a lot of pollution when happens too quickly. This in-turn ruins the quality of life for people living in that area by causing health problems.

  • The corona virus was very insidious in the way it spread; within a year it spread from the city of Wuhan to the other corner of the world affecting every country and every city while also inhibiting people in their homes.

The corona virus spread very quickly and silently, within a year it had affected the entire world. The first wave was the most lethal. No one knew that the virus had touched their doorstep, but it had arrived. It constrained people in their homes and locked down the world’s progress.

  • Sushant Singh Rajput experienced the insidious effects on nepotism in the Indian entertainment industry.

Famous Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput who played the role of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the film ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story,’ committed suicide on June 14, 2020. He often complained that nepotism and cronyism were key players in the film industry.

Definition of invidious

Invidious actions are also aimed at causing offence but they are done openly in an overt manner. The adjective invidious describes something that causes bitterness and discord between people. It is the poison that destroys social values. The root of the word invidious can be traced back to the Latin core ‘invidiosus’ which means ‘envious or ill willed.’

Example sentences of invidious

  • The best teachers never pick favorites and always avoid invidious comments.

All students deserve to be treated equally and it is the basic need of students to be able to learn in an environment that nourishes their healthy self-esteem. Hence teachers who avoid discriminatory remarks or actions are the best teachers one can have.

  • ‘It would be invidious to single out a single best performer since it was a team performance and all the dancers performed their equally best,’ the Judge remarked and burst out clapping.

A team had performed spectacularly on a dance show. Hence, the judge said it would be unfair to single out any one best performer since it was a united performance that enthralled everyone.

  • ‘It would be invidious to take the name of a single benefactor since it was the work of numerous charities that helped build this shelter for the orphans,’ the chairperson spoke.

This sentence showcases a part of a chairperson’s speech who spoke these words at the opening ceremony of a children’s orphanage. He pointed out that numerous charities had aided in building the shelter and it would be unfair to single-out any names.

Invidious assessments compare people in a negative but blatant way. As a result they cause a lot of shame, envy and resentment. Insidious actions also inflict harm but they are performed covertly. What elucidates insidious actions from invidious actions is the fact that insidious actions seem positive or neutral on the surface which means an aspect of deceit is involved. So anything insidious is more lethal and has even more obstructive consequences because they can’t be pinpointed like invidious actions.

If you’re facing difficulty in remembering the difference, here’s some helpful advice:

The word ‘insidious’ has the first few letters of the word ‘inside’ which means that it harms from the inside in a subtle way.